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Faculty News 2019

College of Media faculty, students and alumni recognized by PRSA-WV

Associate Professor of Public Relations Rita Colistra, Ph.D., was named the Practitioner of the Year, and Associate Professor of Advertising and Public Relations Geah Pressgrove, Ph.D., was named the 2019 Public Relations Educator of the Year at the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) West Virginia Chapter Awards Gala in Morgantown on June 19. For the third consecutive year, the WVU PRSSA Chapter was recognized as the Chapter of the Year. In addition, College of Media alumna Blaithe Tarley (BSJ, 2018) was named the West Virginia Young Professional of the Year. Tarley is the strategic communications coordinator for the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau.

College of Media faculty and staff honored for outstanding service

Elizabeth Oppe, Ph.D., Tricia Petty and Geah Pressgrove, Ph.D., have been recognized for their outstanding service to WVU Reed College of Media students and to the state of West Virginia. Oppe, a teaching associate professor at the College, is the recipient of the Beginning Service Award, a Heebink Award for Distinguished Service to the state of West Virginia. Petty, assistant dean of students and enrollment services, is a recipient of the Nicholas Evans Excellence in Advising award. Pressgrove, an associate professor at the College, has been awarded the 2019 Faculty Award for Distinction in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research. They were honored by President Gordon Gee at the annual faculty and staff awards dinner at Blaney House on April 24.

Colistra and Britten receive faculty awards

Rita Colistra was recognized with the College of Media’s Faculty Research Award, and Bob Britten received the Outstanding Teaching Award for the 2018-19 academic year. Colistra was honored for her research and work as the principal investigator and project director for BrandJRNY, a community branding initiative launched by the College of Media in 2015 to create strategic communications campaigns for communities in West Virginia. Britten’s lead a class that partnered with PolitiFact, a Pulitzer-Prize winning news organization, and taught student journalists how to properly fact-check politicians.

Nice Work



Gina Dahlia has been promoted to teaching professor. Dahlia currently serves as chair of the Journalism program, managing director of the Media Innovation Center and the general manager of “100 Days in Appalachia.” She is the executive producer of the award-winning “WVU News” program, a student-produced newscast that airs statewide on PBS and cable. The show has garnered more than 75 regional, national and international awards in the last several years. Dahlia also established a relationship with ESPNU for a program called “Campus Connection,” which allows young journalists to work with sports broadcast news professionals and showcase their work on various platforms associated with ESPNU. Prior to joining the College faculty, Dahlia had a career in television news as an anchor, reporter and producer at WDTV News Channel Five in Bridgeport, West Virginia. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at West Virginia University.


Joel Beeson was promoted to professor. Beeson is currently leading a collaborative initiative with Morgan State University’s School of Global Communication and Journalism, a historically black urban institution, to develop a Social Justice Media Project. He is also an invited beta partner, storyteller and producer with the Google Cultural Institute and the College’s Media Innovation Center. His virtual exhibit, “Soldiers of the Coalfields: The Hidden stories of Black Appalachians in WWI,” was one of 100 stories highlighted by the Google Cultural Institute. He also produced a virtual reality project for Google Expeditions, “WWI Through the Eyes of the Chicago Defender,” which takes viewers on a tour of WWI-era United States as seen through the eyes of the nation’s most influential black weekly newspaper at that time. Beeson earned his doctorate in American Studies at the Union Institute and University investigating how Critical Race and Feminist Standpoint theories can inform counter narratives in social documentary projects using oral history methods.


Geah Pressgrove was promoted to associate professor with tenure and was recently named chair of the advertising and public relations program. She has been the faculty advisor for the award-winning PRSSA chapter for the past five years and founded CreateAthon@WVU, a 24-hour creative blitz where teams of students work with professional mentors to produce marketing and communications deliverables for nonprofit organizations. With Pressgrove’s guidance, WVU became a national CreateAthon partner in 2016. She is also the faculty lead in a partnership with the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication where students and faculty are working together on a reporting and advocacy project around the issue of women’s incarceration in West Virginia and Oklahoma. Prior to coming to WVU, Pressgrove worked in an agency and did freelance work for diverse clients including nonprofits, foundations, corporations, entertainment properties, municipal governments, political campaigns, and healthcare organizations. She holds a doctoral degree in mass communications at the University of South Carolina. 


Lois Raimondo has been promoted to associate professor with tenure. Raimondo is the Shott Chair of Journalism and an international award-winning journalist. Prior to joining the faculty, she worked as a staff photographer at The Washington Post and a freelance photographer and writer. She spent four years as the chief photographer for The Associated Press bureau in Hanoi, Vietnam. Raimondo’s work has appeared in publications including National Geographic, The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Newsweek and Time. She has received national and international recognition for both her photo and written journalism. In 2005, Raimondo was awarded the Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship to report on the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Pakistan. In 2002, she was awarded the Edward Weintal Prize for Diplomatic Reporting for her front-line reporting from the war in Afghanistan. She holds two master’s degrees, one in news-editorial from the University of Missouri-Columbia and the other in comparative literature from Indiana University. 


Welcome New Faculty Members

Heather Cole

Heather Cole is a new teaching assistant professor in the Interactive Design for Media program. Previously, Cole was an assistant teaching professor of digital arts at Penn State Behrend in Erie, Pennsylvania, as well as the program chair of the Game Minor. She earned her MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College in Plainsfield, Vermont.  


Jim Iovino has joined the College of Media as the Odgen Newspapers Visiting Assistant Professor of Media Innovation. Prior to coming to WVU, he was the deputy managing editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which was awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Reporting for its Tree of Life massacre coverage. Iovino managed all digital editorial initiatives at the Post-Gazette, including driving audience-first and digital subscription efforts. Previously, Iovino was a senior news editor of operations and managing editor for NBC Universal in Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C. Iovino has an extensive journalism background that includes newspaper and television leadership experience.